By Ian Coller
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Additional resources for Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831
13 Its population had doubled in the course of two centuries, and the Sublime Porte in Istanbul—both the seat of the Islamic caliphate and the center of Ottoman political power—faced significant challenges in governing by the traditional means that had held the empire together for more than half a millennium. The fundamental role of Islam in cementing the legitimacy of Ottoman rule had provided a constant pressure to expand into the non-Muslim world, but it also served to constrain change within a powerfully theocentric vision of the world.
But Thompson made it clear why the conception of “making” was fundamental to his approach: he was describing something that existed only as a process and could not be described in any other way. Rather than simply describing the formation of a social class under specific historical circumstances, Thompson showed how a plurality of heterogeneous individuals and groups with different origins and different interests, different beliefs and regional ties, came together to recognize their commonalities over their differences, partially as a result of the conditions created by those more powerful, but also in part as the result of their own work, even if this was not always explicitly articulated to such an end.
Tat Moderne, vol. . State Library of Victoria, Melbourne. 2 He is beardless, in contrast to the other figures appearing in vignettes collected on the same page—ranging from a street violin player to a Muslim shaykh—but his bushy moustache nonetheless distinguishes him from the largely clean-shaven French. 3 In the picture, his raised right knee and left hand suggest a certain tension, a latent movement despite his attitude of repose. His wide gaze is directed at a point in the distance, with the slightly furrowed brow giving a pensiveness to his expression.
Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831 by Ian Coller